The University of South Alabama’s African-American Studies program will commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Saenger Theatre with a lecture. The featured speaker for the event is Dr. Charles Johnson, author, screenwriter, critic, lecturer and professor. The event is free and open to the public.
He’s a MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner, an Academy of Arts and Letters: 2002 Academy Award for Literature winner, and the first African-American man to win a National Book Award since Ralph Ellison.
Johnson has been praised for his balance of philosophy and folklore of his novel “Middle Passage,” which won the National Book Award in 1990. Like his other works of fiction, “Middle Passage,” embodies Johnson’s provocative version of black literature.
Johnson’s first novel, “Faith and the Good Thing,” was published in 1974 when the author was studying for his Ph.D. in phenomenology and literary aesthetics at Stony Brook University in New York.
Born in Evanston, Ill., Johnson began his career as a cartoonist. His two collections of cartoons were acclaimed for their subtle but pointed satire of race relations, and success, which led to “Charlie’s Pad,” a 1971 series on public television that Johnson created, co-produced and hosted.
As a cartoonist and journalist in the early 1970s, Johnson has published 1,000 drawings in national publications, a selection of which appears in “Humor Me: An Anthology of Humor by Writers of Color” by John McNally.
Johnson has also written 20 screenplays, among them “Booker,” which received the International Prix Jeunesse Award, a 1985 Writers Guild Award for “outstanding script in the television category of children’s shows,” and was released for home-video in 1996.
The co-sponsors of this event are the USA Office of Academic Affairs, The College of Allied Health Professions; departments of communication, history, English, and music; Jaguar Productions; Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; African-American Student Association; USA’s Center for Academic Service-Learning and Civic Engagement; the USA Football Program; Mobile County Commission; and the Museum of Mobile.
For more information contact Jaguar Productions at (251)-460-7144.